Lindigo: Mi Lé Sek Mi Léin

Before going on stage Olivier Araste, the charismatic and powerful lead singer of the band Lindigo, always leaves in the dressing room an offering to his ancestors. At the heart of the trance, vigorously induced by his group and their frenzied rhythms played on the roulèr, the pikèr and kayamb, and at the core of their chants, whirl the invited spirits of the ancestors, giving the band’s eight members energy, faith and courage… A “feeling as strong as chilli” according to Olivier. While deeply rooted in solid traditions and its homeland, Madagascar, and cultivated in the sugarcane fields, their maloya is also part of the present, swaying with its load of positive vibrations and setting the discos alight while exalting the servis kabaré, the ceremony in honour of the ancestors inherited from Malagasy and African slaves.

 A Maloya childhood

Flash back. The story begins in Paniandy, a neighbourhood of Bras-­‐Panon, a small town in the east of the island. Olivier was already grooving to maloya in his mother’s womb. A curious child, he tasted all the ingredients of this music, a mixture of Malgasy, African and Indian heritage… He soon refined his appetite, learning the basics, the secrets, and playing every day, to forge his art and his ears. On the guitar, the accordion, the drums, in a variety of Reunion groups, the young prodigy practised his scales. In 1999, he formed Lindigo, soon joined by other “dalons”, his friends from Paniandy. Fast forward to 2004: their first album called Misaotra Mama (Thank you Mother), recorded after several warm-­‐up tours playing in balls and neighbourhood parties, pays homage to Madagascar, the Great Island, the land of heritage, the promised land. Two years later, Zanatany (Local Child) confirmed their talent: they were the revelation of Sakifo, took Africolor by storm, then conquered the radio with their hit La Kazanou. Then came Lafrikindmada (2008), a salute to Reunion’s many faces. And finally Maloya Power (2012), ploughing their furrow ever deeper.

Raised fist

So here we are today, with the release of their fifth album, a symbolic number: “The fifth is the little finger that bends closed. It’s the clenched fist”, says Olivier. In Mi lé Sek Mi lé (I am what I am) we stop posing, we stop the distorted rhetoric and tread a radical, rebellious and socially committed path, paved with the flagstones of healthy anger. And so we revive the spirit of maloya: the combat – for recognition of our music, our island, our history, our family, our ancestors. Enough softening of the conscience, enough simple explosions of joy: it is time to take a stand. I was born maloya, I breathe maloya, I will die maloya. Now I give voice to the load weighing down my heart with this music that runs through my veins.” In this album, his voice seems even more personal. And more intimate. Laid bare, his heart beats with rants and heartache; his art tells of his observations of his artist’s life, its troubles, its stories, sometimes without tenderness or indulgence. Is Mi lé Sek Mi lé the album of maturity? Assuredly, as Lindigo looks at his reflection and makes his mark, with a pot pourri all his own.

Between roots and protest: finding his way

Right from the beginning, the group chose to leave the ways of childhood, the studious treading of the paths of heritage, to come of age and carve its own tools. “In 2004, the year of the release of our first album, Lo Rwa Kaf and Granmoun Lélé departed. Orphaned by our mentors, we have faithfully followed in their footsteps. We have progressively added our own ingredients, giving musical muscle to our name, on our island and beyond…”. Across the globe, from Brazil to Australia, from the United States to the Czech Republic, from Japan to the cows in Paniandy’s courtyard, from jam sessions with South African Skip and Die or La Yegros from Argentina, to their musical encounters with jazz saxophonist Guillaume Perret, and reggae star Winston McAnuff…..Lindigo is forging ahead with the flag of maloya held high, both deeply rooted and travelling afar.

Between the intimacy of their ceremonies and their political stance, Olivier’s direct lyrics breathe personal experience, telling in a few verses Reunion’s symbolic stories of complex sentiments, like the traditional parabolérs. “I build my songs, like parts of the servis, my school, my life, my element”, says Olivier. “My lyrics are based on questions and anwers: four phrases repeated for hours. To the question: where is your song? I reply: my soul is singing!”.

The vibration of the courtyard

The three-­‐day recording in a courtyard in Sainte-­‐Suzanne was direct, raw and simple, full of “roots” and “earth” sounds, with chaises longues, bird song and moringueurs (Reunion wrestlers) for a “warrior” competitiveness…The recording session was filled by friends, nephews, nieces, children, granmouns, for extra good vibes. At the controls, just as for their last album, reigned Fixi, Java’s amazing accordionist. “He is like the mechanic revving up the motor”, says Olivier. “Before we went at 120; now we go at 240!” The group wrote this fifth album with their foot hard down on the pedal…..A chapter coloured by strong political commitment, rebellious and militant. With a huge smile, Olivier concludes: “My heart is light once again. This album has been therapeutic…”